Business Connectors are talented individuals seconded from business, trained by Business in the Community and placed in local communities of greatest need. They encourage collaborations amongst a wide range of organisations and become an essential link between business and local community organisations - helping to change the culture of how business and communities work together.

Shirley Leith, former Business Connector for Liverpool, supported a range of organisations in the region including local housing charity Housing People Building Communities (HPBC), an award-winning organisation which offer affordable homes in the local community. Prior to returning to her role in the Department for Work and Pensions, Shirley connected HPBC with DWP to create a route for signposting work experience opportunities via Jobcentre Plus. As a result of this connection, HPBC took on four people on their work experience programme including Tania Dash. 

Originally from southwest London, 30-year-old Tania has spent the last four years in Liverpool and is a Business Studies and Public Relations student at Liverpool John Moores University. Tanya began a placement at HPBC during her summer break following her first year of study. Here’s Tania’s story:

“I dropped out of University after I become pregnant during my second year. I returned to my studies last year and had been looking to gain some work experience. I’d been out of work for the last four and a half years.

"Initially I looked through the Careers Advice Bureau at my university but the majority of them were aimed at graduates. I went to the job centre and most of their opportunities were aimed at those aged 18 to 24. However, after telling an advisor I was good with computers they offered me an admin opportunity and I said ‘great’. 

"The advisor booked me an appointment to see HPBC and the rest is history! There are lots of students out there [like me] who have not graduated and are looking for any work experience. So for me to even ask for this and to then receive it is a miracle. It feels fantastic because I’m a mother as well, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the working environment. This gives me an opportunity to get back out there, get to know people and get the confidence again to talk to people.

"To do this is just brilliant. I’m learning about marketing and how everything runs. I’m experiencing first-hand what I’m studying, so it couldn’t be better!”

The Business Connector programme, funded by the BIG Lottery, is creating a network of Connectors across England and Scotland. To learn more about it, please click here.

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